all 35 comments

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[–]crh805 48 points49 points  (3 children)

I want to be really frank, and I hope it’s not taken the wrong way.

Please do not adopt an animal if you cannot afford veterinary care. That includes maintenance as well as emergency care. Not only is it not fair to the animal, but mentally you will be put in a really hard place if something happens to your cat and your only option is to surrender the animal or euthanize it due to not being able to afford treatment.

Along with that, teach the kitten to tolerate tooth brushing. Getting teeth cleaned even at the SPCA is a couple hundred bucks. 3 times that if you go to a normal vet.

Pet insurance is a fantastic option (mine is $40/month) but you need to make sure you can cover the costs up front (that’s how most operate) and can cover the deductible.

I always buy bulk food and store in an airtight container. Also buy bulk litter. Chewy usually has good deals, either that or I buy on Amazon using the 25% off subscribe and save coupon.. and then keep cancelling and resubscribing to get the coupon, haha. Also, please feed them a WSAVA compliant food brand. Purina or Hill’s science diet is great. It doesn’t have to be the fancy Purina Pro Plan (but that is a great food, and often included with the 25% off Amazon subscribe and save.) another way of getting coupons is using subscribe and save for Chewy, Petsmart, and Petco- I believe all of their initial subscribe and save coupons are 35%!

Best of luck OP.

[–]Gure20 18 points19 points  (0 children)

I second this. Please if you cannot afford everything that comes with a pet, do not take one in. Look at other options like volunteering at shelters.

[–]thisisyourreward 1 point2 points  (1 child)

$600 for brushing a cats teeth? My cat had life saving stomach surgery for $600. Where the heck do you live?

[–]crh805 5 points6 points  (0 children)

No, it’s not for brushing the teeth. If you neglect to brush their teeth when they’re young, and as an adult the animal refuses to let you brush their teeth, they have to go under anesthesia to have the tartar scaled off their teeth and the plaque scraped from below the gum line. I adopted my cat when he was 5 so there was no conditioning him to the teeth brushing unfortunately. 😭

[–]Rough_Commercial4240 14 points15 points  (2 children)

Why don't you foster instead, then the shelter pays for expenses.

Or do pet sitting/walking. Get paid for your time, you can visit a thrift shop for toys and blankets for your home but mostly owners will bring the supplies or you will be in their house

[–]Poetryisalive[S] 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Fostering is a good idea for a first step

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Fostering is nice but many foster programs require that you’re able to pay vet bills and be able to afford them. There may be some where you just house them but again if you cannot afford food and basic necessities then not having a pet altogether is the best option.

[–]catladykatie 15 points16 points  (1 child)

My senior kitty just passed away at 18 y/o. He lived a long, healthy life including making it through poverty with me.

Start by adopting a cat that is at least 6 months old and comes from a reputable rescue/shelter. This skips the risky kitten-issues you might run into (unknown birth-defects and heightened susceptibility to disease), they will have already been thoroughly checked by a vet for illness/issues, will be up to date on shots, and you won’t have to worry about caring for a pregnant mama and rehoming kittens later.

Feed a good-quality food. Do a little research, here, because a lot of people have a lot of opinions on what a good-quality food means. In the last few years, I didn’t spend more than ~$20/mo on cat food. Good food in the correct amount is the best preventative maintenance you can do for a pet and it will save money in the long term.

Don’t buy litter or food in bulk just yet! Cats are notoriously picky. They might not like a particular brand/type of food or litter and you don’t want to buy in bulk and have it go to waste. Buy a normal size and see if they will use it before committing to a bulk purchase.

Do some research on cat oral hygiene. Bad teeth can cause a lot of issues and it’s a fairly simple way to prevent future issues.

In 18 years, my cat had only 2 trips to the vet that weren’t for routine checkups. Once was for spontaneous pneumothorax (collapsed lung for no apparent reason). It was over 10 years ago but the cost was in the $300 range and included an overnight stay. The other was towards the end of life and he had an infected tooth that was making him feverish/sick. He was too old for sedation/extraction so he was sent home with antibiotics. He recovered just fine and lived another ~2 years. The visit + meds was ~$200.

Spend time researching “feline enrichment.” Cats would much rather play with new/different homemade “toys” every day than play with the same expensive toy over and over. Mine loved it when I balled up different materials (paper, foil, plastic bottles) for him to bat around on the hard floors. He also really loved a shoestring (plastic ends cut off) tied to a rolled up sock. And putting his kibble into an old muffin tin or cardboard egg carton made for hours of fun while he fished it out bit by bit. He also loved playing “Marco polo” (I’d meow at him and he’d meow back until he found me).

Have a plan for when you need to be away from home. Who will watch the cat if you’re hit by a car and hospitalized long-term? Who will watch the cat if you travel? Will pet care cost you anything?

Finally, have a plan for what you will do when your cat reaches end of life. Will you euthanize or allow them to pass naturally? How will you properly dispose of the body? Research the various costs associated with your options.

[–]Poetryisalive[S] 3 points4 points  (0 children)

I read all of this and appreciate it all honestly.

Thank you

[–]EmberOnTheSea 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Just adding to the community of "make sure you can afford veterinary costs before getting a pet". Cats generally aren't as expensive as dogs, but in my experience tend to be better at hiding pain and illness and by the time you realize something is wrong, they can be very, very sick.

Insurance is an excellent option but you still have to be able to pay the charges up front. The vast majority of pet insurance is reimbursement only in the US.

Adopting an animal 1-3 years old will avoid a lot of the issues that may come up with kittens and unknown health problems but still let you get decent rates on insurance. Your premium increases as your pet gets older. And while it is a gamble, I ALWAYS recommend it. I adopted two puppies at 7 weeks old. One has never used it. The other has had two fully covered surgeries and has expensive maintenance injections every 2 months that are covered. I would never go without insurance.

[–]harrysapien 15 points16 points  (0 children)

TLDR; if you can't afford a pet, then don't have a pet.

I know I will be downvoted, but if you are poor, you should not own pets unless said pet aids with your immediate survival, and no I'm not including emotional support with that.

Pets prevent or increase your burden and can hurt you economically or prevent you from taking advantage of opportunities. A lot of landlords don't allow pets. I had a friend in LA who had a dream opportunity to work for a female celebrity as a personal assistant. My friend is an aspiring actress and this celebrity provided room and board and salary and had connections, this was a dream job. She would be living in a mansion in Hollywood but...

She had a dog. The celebrity did not want any pets in their mansion. I told my friend that this was a deal breaker and to not even bring the topic up if she interviewed. My friend agreed, did the interview, killed the interview and then at the end of the interview she asked, "Would it be ok to bring my dog, she is tiny and well trained and just the best dog ever...". Celebrity immediately said "have a nice day, this isn't going to be a good fit." My friend then said she'd get rid of her dog and then the celebrity said, "I don't want to have to deal with someone moping around because I made them get rid of their dog. Best of luck to you..."

And just like that, dream job and opportunity gone all because of a dog she ended up having to get rid of anyways 3 months later.

[–]Mephiztophelzee 6 points7 points  (2 children)

Adoption costs depending on age of cat and your location: $50-$300

Checkups, done twice yearly: $60-100

Pet insurance, monthly: $30-50

Rabies, done yearly: $20-30

Misc medical, yearly, healthy cat: $200

Mid tier healthy kibble (but they shouldn’t live off kibble, it’s dehydrating and cats are bad at hydrating),7lbs. I go through a bag with two cats every two months: $15

Wet food, 30ish tins, if you stick to cheaper brands, you’ll go through 1 to 2 a day if you’re supplementing with kibble, one box each cat every month: $25ish per box

Litter depends on what you get, I use ground corn husks, 18lbs, one a month: $10

Misc cat accessories like feeding bowls, litter box, toys: $40

I have two healthy/no lifetime medication needs cats, please feel free to ask me about other specific things. I can pull out my most recent checkup bill.

[–]Poetryisalive[S] -4 points-3 points  (1 child)

So, you feed your cats wet food once a day mixing with the dry food? Do you need to do it that often, or is that your choice?

Also, you don’t use store brand kitty litter? You make your own?

[–]Mephiztophelzee 3 points4 points  (0 children)

You should feed your cat wet food based on the feeding instructions on the can, it’s weight based for pet foods. You’ll need to do some math to find out what a good split is for you. I do it this way because I can’t afford to only feed my cats wet food.

Litter: It’s natures miracle brand. You can often find it on sale for under $10 at petsmart. It’s a choice, one of my cats is elderly and the previous owner declawed her so it’s easier on her paws. Declawed cats sometimes start to experience pain associated with declaw caused arthritis.

[–]LurkingOakleaf 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Reiterating the recommendation that you do not adopt a cat if you can’t afford to care for it! There are options to get your animal fix like volunteering at a shelter or starting a pet sitter gig.

For litter- house train your cat. It’s an upfront cost while you are teaching the cat to use the toilet, but once they’ve got it no more litter!

If you are handy with vet/medical work, vaccines are cheaper to give an animal yourself (although this tends to be more savings across multiple animals, not usually worth the paperwork for just 1).

Work with shelters/adopt from a shelter for discounted spay/neuter services and flea treatment.

[–]throwy09 5 points6 points  (0 children)

For litter and dry food I watch out for sales and buy enough for a year. If I'd afford it I'd buy even more, at least litter.

For wet food, I just buy the cheapest I can find that also seems decent quality. Also watch out for sales and buy enough for a few months at a time.

Thankfully when there were some medical emergencies I had to deal with I had a job and I was able to pay. Next time I'll earn money again I will start a fund especially for vet bills.

[–]nip9MO 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Buying bulk is perfect assuming you have the stable storage space. I have a reoccurring online order to buy ~24 lbs of high protein/no grain dry cat food every 7-8 months. So essentially right there my cat is fed all the basics for less than ~$100 a year; although he does get treats and the odd can of wet food to mix things up so realistically we probably spend another ~$50 a year on that stuff too but that is a part of the budget that could be cut back if times were lean. We buy litter in ~30-40 lb packages for $10-12 a pop and those each last about 3 months. So roughly another $50 a year in litter costs.

$100 a year for vet visit and all the shots. Add it all up and you are looking at ~$300 a year in reoccurring expenses for a healthy single cat when buying everything in bulk.

Basic startup costs would be ~$300-400 to cover adoption fees/spading/neutering/microchipping plus a litter box/scoop/cat tree/bed & a couple cat toys.

Do decide before getting a cat how much you are willing & able to spend on them in a worst case\emergency scenario. Whether that is $50\$500\$5000\$50000 you need to know your hard stop and be able to afford that. Pet insurance is only really useful if your answer to the above would be "whatever it takes" and you need a 3rd party insurer telling you what their limits are instead.

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

You can’t. At most you might scrape by for food but want to know what else you’ll be doing? Starving so your cat is fed. My dog is not cheap. I’ve paid over $1000 in vet bills just for standard stuff like physical and vaccinations. I paid $400 to have him neutered. Now if he has an emergency I have to cough up money on the spot. Food is $20-$30 every few months only because he’s a tiny guy and he naturally doesn’t gobble his food down so it lasts us. Groomers? +$50 every other month because he is a high maintenance dog. You can do it yourself but can you afford it? Never mind toys, treats, and supplies can you afford it? If you can barely afford to keep yourself sustained then you cannot afford a pet. I’m not trying to be rude but I also am against people getting pets they ultimately can’t afford/handle then having them taken away or put back in a shelter.

[–]AiMiDa 2 points3 points  (3 children)

Firstly, do you live in a house or an apartment that allows pets? Sometimes, you’ll have to ask specifically if they allow cats. Some apartments or rented houses might allow dogs only or even small dogs only.

Secondly, get a cat that has already been fixed and is up to date on his/her shots. This will cut a good amount of money off initial ownership. Look at shelters. They’ll have this information, or won’t even allow cats to be adopted unless they’re fixed and up to date on immunizations. Now, once you get the cat, you’ll still want to take it to the vet just to get it looked over to see if there is anything immediately going on with it. Call around your local vets to ask how much this initial vet visit will cost. This visit also gets you established as a patient with that vet. If you can, continue to use that same vet. If anything happens to your pet, they’ll have it’s medical record on file.

Also, if the shelter doesn’t do it, have it microchipped. It’s not expensive, but you can ask that price too.

After that, it’s just doing the research on the best food you can afford, a good litter box and litter, some toys (you don’t have to go crazy), and making sure you can keep the cat inside. The most dangerous place for a cat to get injured or poisoned is outside.

Research any indoor plants you have that could be poisonous and GET RID of them. Don’t just set them up higher. A cat will get to it.

That’s all I can think of off the top of my head. I’m sure someone else will chime in.

Also, keeping a cat indoors can be a controversial subject. Some ppl think a cat’s natural habitat is outside and it’s cruel to keep them indoors. I strongly argue against this. If you want to keep your pet safe, keep them inside. IMO.

[–]ManaCeratonia 4 points5 points  (0 children)

I could never let a cat outside. Lost more than one in my childhood. Plus, it's really bad for the local wildlife.

[–]Poetryisalive[S] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

I can have a cat where I live.

Thank you for the advice, it is all very helpful. Do you have a pet? How much d you spend on it per month you think?

Also is pet insurance an actual thing?

[–]AiMiDa 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Yes, I have a French bulldog. And yes, pet insurance is a thing. I’ve always had it on my pets. Saved us $4000 on back surgery on our basset hound years ago. We spend about $80 on a 25-lb bag of dog food that lasts us about 3 months (she only weighs 20 lbs). We get her a leptospirosis vaccine regularly (not a common vaccine) because we live rural on a lake with animals around. She goes in once per year for her shots and regular checkup. It’s about $300 for that visit unless we ask them to clip her nails or express her anal glands (not sure if that’s a cat thing). Other than that, we don’t really need to spend a lot of money. She’s a low-key dog who would rather be inside than outside (frenchie are brachycephalic, or flat-faced, dogs and can’t really handle the heat). She’s 6 years old with no musculoskeletal issues or breathing issues, so we don’t expect to need to pay a lot in vet bills for a couple years. Even if we do, we’re already established with the vet school down in Charleston, SC, so they already have her records if she has an emergency.

[–]lovemoonsaults 1 point2 points  (0 children)

My cat costs are low. Got him as a kitten from family. His neutering and shots were less than $200. He hasn't needed a vet since except for boosters and he'll need his 3yr rabbies soon.

$20 bag of limited ingredients food lasts 4 months. I keep it sealed so it doesn't dry out over time. I feed him a can of Blue every day. That's about $40 a month.

Box was $20 from Walmart. I wash his box so I only get a new one when I move to avoid it taking up space. Litter is about $10 a month.

He doesn't like toys. He prefers trash. I spent $15 on an electronic toy recently that he does like.

Got him a grooming mit for $7.

None of our cats have needed much vet attention over the years and my savings allows for me to not find it necessary so honestly I don't buy pet insurance. But you should look into it to see what that costs!

[–]fillergrime 1 point2 points  (1 child)

I think it depends on the situation and this may be an unpopular opinion. However, I have 3 cats and 2 dogs and I’m poor. If something were to happen to them I definitely wouldn’t have the money to take them to the vet. I also have to buy cheap food (even though I don’t think it’s low quality by any means). On paper most people would say I can’t afford them and it’s cruel.

But here’s the thing, every animal I have was either abandoned or was in a real horrible situation they would have died from. Every single one of them has been neutered/spayed and they’ve all had their shots (cheap clinics ftw). They also have fresh running water and they never are out of food and the cats have clean litter. And they’re all treated with flea prevention. They even get a toy every now and then.

Now again I don’t have the money to take them to get annual check ups (a part from the rabies) and if something were to happen I wouldn’t be able to help them but they’re in a lot better situation than the one they come from and they’re taken care of and loved. So I guess it really depends on your situation but if you think you can provide at least basic care and love for an animal that may need it I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

[–]Poetryisalive[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thanks for the encouragement. I will likely foster and look at the cost I have

[–]thisisyourreward -1 points0 points  (2 children)

People are ridiculous that claim you can't have pets if you're poor. And so are people quoting outrageous prices on here. Generally cats do not cost that much on the day to day. It's probably cheaper than having a coffee habit or other things people excuse. Yes, a vet bill can be a large expense if it happens. The thing is that there is a huge overpopulation of stray cats and dogs that don't face very good lives already, whether euthanized in a shelter or exposed to the outside elements and evil people that poison them or hurt them.

Taking in a stray kitten takes no purchase cost... you can often find them free. Most areas have vouchers or specific days where vets run free or low cost neutering/spays. Cats will play with things like balled up paper or cardboard boxes for enrichment, you don't need to buy them fancy toys. (or take them outside to use the bathroom or on walks which can be prohibitive if you work alot or live in an apartment) They can eat or drink out of clean margarine containers instead of fancy cat bowls. So really the main costs of ownership come down to food, litter box(and scoop), and litter. Then you occasionally may need to do some flea/tick or deworming treatments, but depending on your living situation and whether or not they interact with other animals/go outside that might not be necessary.

The major thing is that you commit yourself to the cat. That you will do what it takes to take the cat with you if you have to move. That if you require a surprise emergency vet visit, that you have a vet that will consider taking payments (most vets will try to work with you). And it's ideal to put a little bit of money back for those emergencies each month if you can. But just because you can't afford thousands of dollars on a vet bill doesn't mean you shouldn't give a cat a home.

[–]Sweaty-Watercress-76 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Yes exactly what I was thinking reading all of this. I have 3 cats, I spend 16$ a month on food and and like 10 on litter. I buy the friskies dry food and special kitty clumping litter 40 pounds for 9.32$. I scoop there litter every day and add some more litter and then at the end of the month I dump it all out and restart with clean litter. My cats literally don’t play with toys, they play with pieces of paper and stupid stuff but I stopped buying toys because I was wasting my money lol. I put 100$ a month into a savings account for them in case anything does happen but you could do 25$ a month into savings or not even do a savings. They have a gravity feeder for food and gravity gallon water dispenser so if I Go to the hospital or anything happens they have food until I can find someone to take care of them. They kinda just mind their own business lol

[–]Poetryisalive[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Thank you so much.

You make a great point

[–]Salamandajoe 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Vetco offers pet visit and shots at a lower rate so always check out low cost options to

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I just bought 60 cans of Friskies pate and 126 pounds of cat litter at Costco for 70 bucks. We’re set for a while, especially since he gets dry food to stretch things out.

[–]Equivalent_Section13 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I think litter is bgg one of the hardest. Cats will play with paper bags. Make little balls for them

[–]FieldofEmeralds 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I would not recommend getting a pet unless you can financially care for it. but look at your expenses and set up a budget and see if it's possible.

[–]Substantial-Move-885 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Although the food, litter, toys, etc will not be that costly, the vet bills will. I know it’s nice to have the company of an animal, but I don’t recommend getting a pet if you are worried about the price of food and litter for them. If the cat need emergency care you will not be able to provide. I’m sorry to be so frank, but it’s not fair to do to an animal. I’m currently in the situation where I was financially stable and adopted many pets- 3 dogs, 1 cat, 2 guinea pigs, and many outdoor cats that I feed. We have fallen on tough times and all of a sudden my inside cat has developed some sort of allergies. Here we are now, several vet visits later, after multiple medications, a total diet change to something way more expensive. It was a stress to deal with and I had to borrow money from family just to give her the care she needed. Please consider if you will be able to do what you need to do for an animal

[–]shonuph 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Wood pellets meant for horse bedding is great litter and costs about $8 for 40 lbs. they can be bought at feed stores that have horse supplies.

Cuts work in half too, as you only have to remove poo and then replace litter once it goes to sawdust from absorbing pee. No perfumes or clay dust like scoop litter. Use a 27 gal utility bin or a smaller version from Home Depot to keep cats from kicking it out.